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TCM Imports - July 2018
Remind Me

Le Petit Soldat

Bruno Forestier is a French secret agent who travels to Geneva to assassinate a key figure in the National Liberation Front (FLN) but soon finds himself being used as a pawn by both sides. Eventually he is forced to take action when his girlfriend Veronique is kidnapped.

Because of Godard's ambivalent attitude to the Algerian War and his matter-of-fact depiction of brutality and torture in Le Petit Soldat (1963), the film was banned by the French Ministry of Information until 1963 when it was released with minor cuts. The film was his first foray into politics and the screen debut of Anna Karina, a former model who would go on to collaborate with Godard on eight more films.

In an interview that appeared in Cahiers du Cinema, Godard had this comment about Le Petit Soldat: "I wanted to catch up with the realism I had missed in Breathless, the concrete. The film takes off from an old idea: I wanted to speak of brainwashing....the happenings in Algeria made me replace brainwashing with torture, which had become the big question. My prisoner is someone who is asked to do something he doesn't want to do; simply doesn't want to do it, and he resists on principle. This is liberty as I see it: from a practical point of view. To be free is to be able to do what pleases you when it pleases you."

Producer: Georges de Beauregard
Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard
Cinematography: Raoul Coutard
Editor: Agnes Guillemot, Lila Herman, Nadine Trintignant
Music: Maurice Leroux
Principal Cast: Michel Subor (Bruno Forestier), Anna Karina (Veronica Dreyer), Henri-Jacques Huet (Jacques), Laszlo Szabo (Laszlo).
In French with English subtitles

by Jeff Stafford